U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the U.S. Forest Service to take all appropriate action to safeguard the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) from possible devistation caused by encroaching gypsy moths. In his letter to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Senator Casey urged the Forest Service to take measures to prevent damage to the forest which is a critical component of the state's timber industry. Timber is a $5.5 billion industry that contributes to economic growth across the state.
"Maintaining a vibrant timber industry is critical to jobs and economic growth in Northwestern Pennsylvania," said Senator Casey. "Damage to the Forest's important hardwood timber would negatively impact jobs in the timber industry as well as roads and schools across four counties across Northwestern Pennsylvania. I urge the Forest Service to take the necessary steps to protect the health of the Allegheny National Forest."
Since its introduction in 1860, the gypsy moth has become one of America's most devastating invasive forest pests. Recent reports indicate an expanded presence in the ANF, potentially jeopardizing a key source of valuable timber. In Fiscal Year 2012, timber sales by the ANF totaled over $7 million and the timber industry is an importance source of direct and indirect employment for Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Revenues from Pennsylvania's forest products industry exceed $5.5 billion annually. Over 10% of the state's manufacturing workforce is involved in the forest products industry. Every dollar paid to a timber owner for trees ultimately generates, through manufacturing, more than $17 worth of economic growth.
Below is Senator Casey's letter to the Chief of U.S. Forest Service:
The Honorable Tom Tidwell
U.S. Forest Service
Dear Chief Tidwell:
First introduced during the 1860s during a failed attempt to start a silkworm business, the gypsy moth has become one of America's most devastating invasive forest pests. During this nearly 150 year history, the range of gypsy moth has spread and each year new populations have continued to grow in America. I am particularly concerned by the gypsy moth's presence in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).
The Allegheny National Forest (ANF), spanning approximately 517,000 acres, is spread across four Pennsylvanian counties: Forest, Elk, McKean, and Warren. The forest is a key source of valuable timber. It is also an importance source of both direct and indirect employment. The value of timber sold by the ANF totaled $7.2 million during Fiscal Year 2012, and was as high as $25.6 million within the last ten years. I am committed to ensuring that the ANF continues to fuel the economy of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Within the ANF, gypsy moth defoliation primarily threatens the oak forest, since oak leaves are the preferred food source of the moth. Due to recent reports regarding egg masses counts, I am concerned about the potential for growth loss and a reduction in the oak trees' overall health and survival. Damage to Pennsylvania's important hardwood timber would be injurious for the industry and workers in the region; it would also negatively impact the roads and schools in these four Pennsylvania counties. I ask that the U.S. Forest Service continue to take all appropriate actions to prevent gypsy moth from harming the health of the Allegheny National Forest. I also ask that Forest Service staff work with others to ensure that private land owners in Pennsylvania have the best information on how to address gypsy moth on their property.
The Allegheny National Forest is an invaluable natural resource that supports both the economy and culture of Pennsylvania. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my requests. I appreciate your leadership and look forward to continuing to work with you on this and other matters.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator